03 May Taking an Elderly Parent to a Doctor’s Appointment
Whenever possible it’s always a good idea for adult children to take their elderly parents to doctor’s appointment. Helping to fill-out paperwork, taking notes, and communicating a parent’s questions and concerns to the doctor are all a big help to an aging parent. Furthermore, simply driving to a doctor’s appointment is an ideal opportunity to have open communication with a parent about their health concerns. Of course, it is also always a benefit to have two people in the room to remember what the doctor said.
Preparing for the Doctor’s Appointment
Make a list. Help your parents write a list of the specific health concerns they wish to discuss with the doctor. Don’t overwhelm the doctor with too much information. Prioritize in order 3 – 4 of the the most important items a parent needs to go over.
Come prepared. Bring your parent’s actual prescription bottles in a bag to the appointment. Discuss with the doctor any side effects your parent has been experiencing. Know the location of your parent’s healthcare insurance cards and driver’s license and make copies for yourself. Make sure the doctor’s office has your parent’s advance healthcare directives and medical power of attorney in their records. Have the dates of a parent’s most recent colonoscopy and eye exam.
Be open and honest. Sometimes an elderly parent may complain of pain to an adult child or show memory problems at home. However, once in the exam room, seniors will often say everything is fine to the doctor. Aging parents may minimize their symptoms out of fear from a diagnosis. They don’t want to receive any news which can lead to loss of independence. As an adult child, it is ok to mention your own observations and ask questions during the appointment. The HIPAA Privacy Rule allows physicians to share information about a patient to family members, friends, or other people identified by the patient.
Compare notes. After the doctor’s appointment discuss with your parent how you think the visit went. Now is a good time to talk with each other about what the doctor said during the appointment.